Results of UA Transcript Study by ANSEP suggest crucial change in local education system

The transcript study recently conducted by the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program (ANSEP), researched college readiness at the University of Alaska. The study examined the number of students in need of developmental coursework arriving at all UA campuses in the past ten years.

Since the results were released, the University of Alaska and State Department of Education and Early Development (DEED) issued an official statement stating that they are stepping up to strengthen alignment between their two education systems. Their goal is to dramatically improve educational attainment in Alaska in hopes of improving economic ambition.

In September, the UA Board of Regents and the State Board of Education committed to work together on building a better education culture in the state. The transcript study found that 60 percent of students from Alaska’s largest high schools arrive at the University of Alaska needing remedial classes.

As many as 70 percent of students from Alaska with honor roll GPAs need remedial coursework when beginning college. That means those high percentage of students are paying for high-school-level classes.

Herb Schroeder, professor of engineering at UAA, vice provost for ANSEP, says that curriculum needs to be realigned between the university and K-12.

“We knew that this was a problem, particularly from students coming in from rural schools, but we were shocked to find out that it was a statewide problem for students of all ethnicities,” Schroeder said. “What is happening is that high schools are giving students diplomas and telling them that they are ready for college and they are not.”

The data taken from students for the survey totals 15,016, where just over 60 percent require developmental coursework.

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The UA transcript study stated the importance of the results – students are passing college-level courses in high school only to retake them when they come to the university, the state is paying for students to take these courses more than once and students and their families continue to pay for the college courses after the students previously passed the classes in high school.

A link is needed between the university and the transition students make after high school.

“Mentally and physically, I think I was on the fence. I was excited and intrigued about being a college student but at the same time, I was nervous and unsure. That was probably due to the fact that I wasn’t academically prepared and felt rushed to become an adult…I ended up switching majors twice and figuring out what I wanted to do after three years of wasted money and effort,” Mariah DeJesus-Remaklus, a UAA journalism student, said.

Many students feel pressured to go to college immediately after high school, even when they are not scholastically ready.

“College hit me like a truck, breaking me mentally and crushing me emotionally. I wasn’t prepared for the feeling of not being good enough academically. Previous schooling came easily and good grades were handed out freely with minimal effort in work, whereas college is plain hard,” McKenna Smith, an undeclared freshman at UAA, said.

Better college preparation will soon be instilled in Alaska’s 54 school districts around the state. The goal of the UA and DEED is to implement a quality control system that provides improved qualification for furthering Alaskan student’s future education.

“You have to have some kind of quality control, so students are actually learning what you think they’re learning. You can’t just give them a grade because they show up for class,” Schroeder said.

Learn more about the UA transcript study at ansep.net.